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HCCB’s Large-scale Waste Collection Efforts Pay Off at Puri’s Rath Yatra

We collaborated with Puri’s Municipality to make the Festival of Chariots, plastic waste free!

The beginning of July symbolizes an auspicious start to the celebrated Puri Rath Yatra in Odisha. Also known as the Festival of Chariots, this unique festival is believed to have the oldest and largest chariot procession in the world. Every year, lakhs of people flock to the holy site to partake in the celebrations.

This year especially, the celebrations were all the more special as they were occurring restriction-free for the first time since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. The gap of 2 years had not lessened the enthusiasm around it, with the footfall standing at around 20 lakh attendees. 

However, as is true with any large gathering, the handling of waste disposal at the festival was a matter of concern. With increased attendance, we also expected an increased volume of solid waste. Keeping the proper disposal facilities available became vital to ensure hygiene and cleanliness throughout the duration of the 9-day festival.

HCCB Lends a Helping Hand

Recognising the need for intervention, we at HCCB, along with our partners, conducted a large-scale plastic waste management drive at the Puri Rath Yatra. 

A march was held before the commencement of the yatra, to inform and sensitise the public about the importance of proper disposal of plastic waste. Hundreds of volunteers enthusiastically took part in this March. 

As part of the larger initiative, we identified key locations along the route of the chariot drive and installed 4 help desks and 40 garbage collection bins. With easy access to these bins, devotees were able to properly dispose of waste throughout the duration of the yatra. 

We also deployed on-ground volunteers to manage the littering. The volunteers carried out the task of informing devotees, restaurant and hotel owners about the importance of responsible waste recycling management

In addition to this, our volunteers also got in touch with residential welfare societies, marketplaces, civil society bodies and elected representatives of the local municipality to drive awareness for waste segregation, management, and transportation. 

Sustainability Through Creativity

We organized collaborations with theatre groups to perform street plays promoting the message of plastic waste management and waste segregation. The plays were carried out at strategic locations and aimed to bring out awareness among the crowd in a fun, creative way.

The team also roped in local vendors, municipal workers, and citizens, who were appointed as ‘Safai Sathis’, to promote environmental awareness at the grassroots level.

The Positive Outcome

We managed to collect a total of 9.5 tonnes of plastic over the course of the yatra. As per the directions of Puri’s Municipality, the plastic was transported by JWO (Jagruti Welfare Organisation) and sent to a recycling plant on a daily basis. In this way, we achieved our aim of ensuring minimal plastic waste at Puri through the vigilance of our volunteers and partners.

This initiative was in line with similar activities that we have conducted at major festivals and gatherings in the past, including the Mission Green Sabrimala in Kerala, the Godavari Pushkaralu Festival in Andhra Pradesh and so on.

We have also carried out similar programmes in Odisha earlier, such as the Meals for Plastic Campaign which was in collaboration with the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC). Through such sustainable plastic waste management programmes, our end goal is to realize our vision of a clean, green and harmonious World Without Waste.

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